‘Tis the season…
“People who come to recognize the benefit of navigating narrow spots with patience,
presence, faith, intention, humor and community
find expressing gratitude to be the beginning of giving back.”
Ruth Bachman (Growing Through the Narrow Spots, 2013)
Being grateful is an invaluable asset – professionally and personally. Gratitude is an attitude of appreciation that acknowledges some benefit or kindness received. It is the first step in giving back to an individual, organization or community for their generosity. Being thankful, and expressing it – no matter how small the gift – spreads abundance in the world, instead of scarcity. Scarcity is worry that somehow the gift is not sufficient – not quite right or what is expected. The world would certainly be a different place if more people came to each day with a spirit of abundance rather than scarcity.
For some time gratitude has been the focus of scientific research and is actually proven to have an impact on your well-being. From the Wall Street Journal: ”…adults who feel grateful have ‘more energy, more optimism, more social connections and more happiness than those who do not’, according to studies conducted over the past decade. They’re also less likely to be depressed, envious, greedy or alcoholics.”
Gratitude is good for your health! Barbara Fredrickson, Ph.D., a leading scholar within social and positive psychology, is one of many experts on the subject of gratitude. She writes, “Positive emotions play an essential role in our survival. Positive emotions, like love, joy, and gratitude (emphasis mine), promote new and creative actions, ideas, and social bonds. When people experience positive emotions, their minds broaden and they open up to new possibilities and ideas. At the same time, positive emotions help people build their personal well-being resources, ranging from physical resources, to intellectual resources, and social resources (Positivity, 2009).
Practicing gratitude, whether writing in a Gratitude Journal for yourself, or writing thank you notes to others, is really about paying attention to the good things in life, some of which we take for granted: a beautiful day; a well-timed hug; a referral; recognition of a job well done; being given an opportunity to share your gifts; acknowledgment of your time, effort and commitment to a task or a cause. It’s easy to overlook the regular sources of goodness in our lives. One act of kindness deserves another. One can assume “they” probably already know you’re thankful, but by communicating it verbally or in written form, you are giving a gift in return. Expressing gratitude can make your day as well as that of the recipient.
So get started. Make someone else’s day at the same time you broaden your mind; discover new possibilities and ideas; and enhance your resources for resilience. Don’t communicate gratitude by text or email. If you must use electronics, pick up the phone for an in-person call. Better yet, get out your best pen and paper and reap all the benefits of saying “Thank you.”
“Gratitude unlocks the fullness of life. It turns what we have into enough, and more. It turns denial into acceptance, chaos to order, confusion to clarity. It can turn a meal into a feast, a house into a home, a stranger into a friend.” — Melody Beattie